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Himalayas search: Missing mountaineer Martin Moran had a ‘real love of life’

Martin Moran was climbing  Nanda Devi, India's second highest mountain.
Martin Moran was climbing Nanda Devi, India's second highest mountain.

Indian air force pilots spotted five bodies in the search for eight climbers missing in the Himalayas before the operation was suspended until today.

Searches have been taking place in a bid to find the party led by Martin Moran, from Lochcarron in Wester Ross.

The group were attempting to reach the top of an unclimbed peak in a remote area of India, after the alarm was raised on Friday morning.

Breaking the news, district magistrate Dr Vijay Kumar Jogdande said the bodies were found before the rescue operation in the northern state of Uttarakhand was suspended because of heavy snowfall and high winds.

He added that officials are consulting the Indian army on how to retrieve the bodies before the search for the three others resumes today.

The expedition set out to scale a 21,250ft peak and had last been in touch with base camp on May 26.

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Family friend, Mark Charlton, said that the news, however heart-breaking, was better than no news at all – as it offered the family certainty over the fate of the group.

Speaking to the P&J, Mr Charlton said Mr Moran, his friend for more than 30 years, was well-respected in the mountaineer world. He said: “Mark is fantastically enthusiastic about mountain climbing and rock climbing and he has a real love of life. He and his wife Joy are exemplary at what they do.”

Mr and Mrs Moran have been mountain guides since 1985 and set up a company, Moran Mountain. The couple’s grown-up children Hazel and Alex also work for the family business.

Mr Charlton continued: “Today marks a week since anyone has heard from the expedition, and while we would like it to be any other way – hope is fading for a good outcome.

“I have been in contact with the family and they are aware of the unfolding situation.”

Mr Charlton, president of British Mountain Guides, continued: “What is clear is that there has been an avalanche. They have found five bodies and the assumption is that these belong to the missing expedition.”

As well as four Britons, the group is thought to include two American climbers, one Australian and one person from India.

Four other British members of the expedition team had already been rescued.

The rescued group, who had stayed back at the second base camp, were brought down on Sunday and given first aid at a hospital in the town of Pithoragarh before later being discharged.

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They included leader Mark Thomas, 44, along with Zachary Quain, 32, Kate Armstone, 39, and Ian Wade, 45.

Authorities said they had been in touch with the missing climbers until around May 26.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said: “We are in contact with the Indian authorities following reports that a number of British nationals are missing in the Indian Himalayas.

“We will do all we can to assist any British people who need our help.”

A spokesman for Mountaineering Scotland said: “Mr Moran is a well-known and well-respected and well-liked mountaineer. He and his wife Joy climbed every munro in Scotland over the course of one year – and ran a very accomplished business from Strathcarron.”

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